Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Burns Harbor TIF board hires consultant consultant

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously Monday to hire McGuireWoods LLP for a fee not to exceed $15,000 to prepare specifications to advertise for a second consultant.

McGuireWoods has offices in London and Brussels as well as 18 offices in the U.S., according to its website.

RDC member Cliff Fleming, who recommended the firm, said it presented three scenarios to do the work ranging from $15,000 to $21,000. The lower cost requires less interaction with the town.

Fleming said the goal is to have someone recognized in the development industry prepare the request for proposals so the RFP solicitation gets noticed. “It sends a message to the development community we know what we’re doing, (that) we’re not just a bunch of citizens trying to do this on our own.”

RDC member Gene Weibl said the RFP will be a professional presentation instead of “something drawn up with a Crayola.” Fleming said a draft of the RFP hopefully can be ready for the June 26 RDC meeting.

The RFP will seek proposals from new consultants who submit a multi-step scope of work to assess what the town’s assets are to grow the community by development/redevelopment. The end product of this study would enable Burns Harbor to reach out to developers as a marketing effort explaining what benefits the town has, said Fleming after the meeting.

RDC member Brad Enslen said the town would be under no obligation to accept any of the second consultant proposals.

In other business, the RDC voted unanimously to have a financial analyst with Cender & Company determine the feasibility of adding the Traditions apartment complex to the town’s TIF district so property taxes from future development there could be reserved for the RDC’s use.

The RDC talked about Traditions at its October meeting but president Greg Miller said it since was determined that the commission missed the March 1 base-assessment date to add Traditions this year.

The Cender study will answer whether it would be beneficial to include Traditions in the TIF district beginning in 2015. Approximately 10 apartment buildings are built but a few more buildings and amenities are planned.

Non-voting RDC member Ralph Ayres of the Duneland School Board was absent Monday but at the April meeting he asked whether the RDC can earmark an allocation for schools so they receive a share of the tax money that otherwise would go to Burns Harbor’s TIF fund.

Last night RDC attorney Chuck Parkinson said yes, an allocation for educational purposes can be made.

Parkinson also briefly reviewed the town’s economic-development plan that was adopted in 2000 and amended in 2008; it specifies what uses are eligible for RDC funding within or adjacent to a designated economic-development area.

Weibl said the current uses are very broad, but Parkinson said the RDC may want to add a specific project in the future if a bond issue is planned.

On another matter, RDC member Jeff Freeze said the process that unfolded when Indiana Flame sought and won tax abatement in 2013 was a “fiasco” and Burns Harbor needs to develop a firm policy for companies to follow. Last year the Town Council handled the matter without any involvement by the RDC although state law allows it.

It was agreed Freeze will work with Parkinson using assistance from the Northwest Indiana Forum to develop a proposed procedure for abatements. Freeze noted that a company in Burns Harbor, which he didn’t identify, is considering a project so a request for tax abatement could be forthcoming.

In the last few years the RDC has met sporadically because its TIF income was used to pay off sewer bonds. They’ve now been retired and Miller said the commission has $111,634 on hand and its anticipated $620,000 available for 2014 all was appropriated to spend if desired.

With money again, the RDC plans to meet monthly and it was decided that will be the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

 

 

Posted 5/13/2014